2016 World Championship Analysis: Shunsuke Hiyama vs. Erik Christensen

The 2016 Yugioh World Championship featured a Blue-Eyes mirror-match final event between Shunsuke Hiyama of Japan, and Erik Christensen of the United States. This match definitely did not live up to expectations, as both duelists opened with a few sub-optimal hands. However, Christensen opened with two consecutive bad hands, costing him and the United States their chance at winning their first world title on home soil.

The core of each duelist’s decks is largely similar, albeit with one major difference in technical choices. Mathematically speaking, Hiyama’s deck is more consistent. In fact, Hiyama’s Blue-Eyes deck shows mathematical precision, from opening hand success rate, to his choice of a 42-card deck.

The Deck Lists

Erik Christensen’s 2016 World Championship Deck

Erik Christensen’s Deck
Monsters Blue-Eyes White Dragon x3

Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon x3

Dragon Spirit of White x2

Galaxy Soldier x3

Maxx “C” x3

The White Stone of Ancients x3

The White Stone of Legend x1

Sage Knight with Eyes of Blue x3

Effect Veiler x2

Spells Return of the Dragon Lords x3

Trade-In x3

Cards of Consonance x2

Dragon Shrine x1

The Melody of Awakening Dragon x3

Dark Hole x1

Soul Charge x1

Upstart Goblin x1

Silver’s Cry x2

Extras Giganticastle x1

Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon x1

Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon x2

Stardust Spark Dragon x1

Michael, the Arch-Lightsworn x1

Black Rose Moonlight Dragon x1

Number 95: Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon x1

Galaxy-Eyes Full Armor Photon Dragon x1

Number 46: Dragluon x1

Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy x1

Number 107: Galaxy-Eyes Tachyon Dragon x1

Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis x1

Cyber Dragon Infinity x1

Cyber Dragon Nova x1

 

Shunsuke Hiyama’s 2016 World Championship Deck

 

Shunsuke Hiyama’s Deck
Monsters Blue-Eyes White Dragon x3

Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon x3

Dragon Spirit of White x1

Maxx “C” x2

The White Stone of Ancients x3

Master with Eyes of Blue x2

The White Stone of Legend x1

Sage Knight with Eyes of Blue x3

Effect Veiler x2

Spells Return of the Dragon Lords x3

Trade-In x3

Cards of Consonance x3

Dragon Shrine x3

The Melody of Awakening Dragon x3

Soul Charge x1

Twin Twisters x2

Traps Phoenix Wing Wind Blast x2

Vanity’s Emptiness x1

Solemn Strike x1

Extras Azure-Eyes Silver Dragon x2

Blue-Eyes Spirit Dragon x2

Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon x1

Stardust Spark Dragon x1

Black Rose Moonlight Dragon x1

Number 95: Galaxy-Eyes Dark Matter Dragon x1

Galaxy-Eyes Full Armor Photon Dragon x1

Number 62: Galaxy-Eyes Prime Photon Dragon x1

Number 46: Dragluon x1

Number 38: Hope Harbinger Dragon Titanic Galaxy x1

Hieratic Sun Dragon Overlord of Heliopolis x1

Alsei, the Sylvan High Protector x1

Cyber Dragon Infinity x1

The Combos

The most common two and three card opening plays for most Blue-Eyes builds are as follows:

  • Play 1: Special summoning Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon by default
  • Play 2: Normal summoning a monster, then activating Sage with Eyes of Blue
  • Play 3: Activating Melody of Awakening Dragon
  • Play 4: Activating Trade-In, then activating Return of the Dragon Lords

Blue-Eyes is an aggressive archetype. Thus, the probabilities shown represent the player going second in a duel. However, it is highly likely Christensen constructed his deck in which it would not matter if he opened first or second. This is due to his tech choices and using a 40-card deck. However, Hiyama uses a 42-card deck, which maintains the same level of consistency as a 40-card deck if the duelist elects to open second here.

 

Play Shunsuke Hiyama (Japan)

Erik Christensen (U.S.A.)

#1 (Two-Card Combo)

30%

19%

#2 (Two-Card Combo)

34%

34%

#3 (Two-Card Combo)

34%

35%

#4 (Three-Card Combo)

11%

20%

This information illustrates a major difference behind deck building here, as Hiyama’s deck focuses on smaller, two card plays, whereas Christensen doubled down on the three-card trade-in combo. Hiyama’s two card plays have a significantly lower standard deviation than Christensen’s deck. Smaller plays ensure higher opening hand consistency along with more reliable top-decks. This is largely why the Blue-Eyes archetype has a few supporting cards that remain relatively unused.

There are a few standout choices which affect the consistency of both decks. Hiyama’s choosing three copies of Dragon Shrine significantly increases the chance of summoning Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon. Furthermore, Dragon Shrine thins out potential dead draws, while enabling a summon during the end phase. Christensen’s addition of Galaxy Soldier introduces a three-card play altogether, introducing a 20% chance of summoning Cyber Dragon Infinity. Additionally, Christensen includes three copies of Silver’s Cry, bolstering the previous three-card play’s percentage over Hiyama.

However, the addition of Galaxy Soldier and the doubling down on revival spells lowers the deck’s overall consistency. All plays and tech choices considered, here is the overall 6-card opening hand consistency once more.

Play

Shunsuke Hiyama (Japan)

Erik Christensen (U.S.A.)

#1 (Two-Card Combo)

30%

19%

#2 (Two-Card Combo)

34%

34%

#3 (Two-Card Combo)

34%

35%

#4 (Three-Card Combo)

11%

20%

Cyber Dragon Infinity

N/A

20%

Total

65%

64%

It is important for deck builders to place consistency as one of their founding elements of a competitive deck. However, sixty-six percent is the magic number duelists should attain when considering the consistency of their opening plays. This is due to duelists are required to take two-thirds of the match in order to win. This number will ensure duelists will have their best chances of winning a match. However, there are two aspects of constructing a deck to ensure consistency. Hiyama comes remarkably close to the 66% target. However, most impressively, his deck is constructed to take advantage of a six-card opening hand, which is the maximum number of cards to account for.

The Expected Hands

Card Classifications

Name Initiator Combo Piece Disruption Recovery Utility
Blue-Eyes White Dragon Yes
Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon  Yes
Dragon Spirit of White Yes
Maxx “C” Yes
Sage with Eyes of Blue  Yes
The White Stone of Ancients Yes
The White Stone of Legend Yes
Effect Veiler Yes
Master with Eyes of Blue Yes
Galaxy Soldier Yes
Cards of Consonance Yes
Silver’s Cry Yes
Upstart Goblin Yes
Trade-In Yes
The Melody of Awakening Dragon Yes
Dragon Shrine Yes
Return of the Dragon Lords Yes
Soul Charge Yes
Dark Hole  Yes
Twin Twisters Yes
Solemn Strike Yes
Phoenix Wing Wind Blast Yes

Most Common Opening Hand

Card Type

Shunsuke Hiyama (Japan)

Erik Christensen (U.S.A.)

Initiator

1

1

Combo Piece

2

2

Disruption

1

1

Recovery

1

1

Utility

1

1

Total

6

6

While deck building, duelists may divide each of their cards into separate pools. In this case, consider five card types: an initiator, combo piece, disruption, recovery, and utility. Hiyama’s opening hand opens up perfectly for a player wanting to open second in a duel. Oddly, Christensen’s hand opens up as if he were to draw six cards as well. Considering Christensen’s tech choice of Galaxy Soldier, his strategy involved opening duels first to summon Cyber Dragon Infinity without interruption. However, he is due for more bad hands since his build features more than one card group with an expected value of one. Furthermore, Galaxy Soldier only has a 20% chance of seeing the field. The costs outweighed the benefits for Christensen.


Round One Opening Hands

Shunsuke Hiyama (Japan) Erik Christensen (U.S.A.)
The White Stone of Ancients Cards of Consonance
The White Stone of Legend Return of the Dragon Lords
Cards of Consonance Silver’s Cry
The Melody of Awakening Dragon Effect Veiler
Effect Veiler Sage with Eyes of Blue
Blue-Eyes Alternative White Dragon N/A

Conclusion

Both finalists in the 2016 World Championship faced one another with very powerful decks, which had all the markings of a match for the ages. However, Erik Christensen’s deck stalled twice in the most important face-off of last year. From a statistical standpoint, Shunsuke Hiyama focused on smaller, more consistent two-card plays, while optimizing his deck for opening duels second. Christesen’s plans of opening first in hopes of establishing large and disruptive plays came in direct conflict with how the deck is constructed. Going for the biggest plays possible is always advisable, when deck building. However, it is likely too much consistency was sacrificed in going this route. Nonetheless, both duelists came to the table with excellent decks in a match Seto Kaiba was destined to win.

Ezell Frazier

Creator of the Deck Optimizer, I enjoy the analytics of Yu-Gi-Oh.

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Ezell Frazier

Creator of the Deck Optimizer, I enjoy the analytics of Yu-Gi-Oh.


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